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Using guided imagery to treat recurrent stomach pain in kids

I was surprised to read it, but “one of the more common chronic pain syndromes in children is recurrent abdominal pain (RAP) — thought to affect 10% to 30% of all school-aged children.”

The results of this study show that “the response to guided imagery in.. children with RAP was rapid, sustained, clinically effective, and not associated with any apparent side effects.”

Let’s learn more.

  • 22 children (5 ? 18 years) were randomized to learn either breathing exercises alone or guided imagery with progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Both groups had 4-weekly sessions with a therapist.

And the results

  • Children who learned guided imagery with progressive muscle relaxation had a significantly greater decrease in the number of days with pain.
  • During the next 2 months, more children who learned guided imagery had less than 5 days of pain each month and no missed activities compared to children who learned only the breathing exercises.

The researchers concluded that guided imagery with progressive muscle relaxation is unfamiliar to many pediatricians. Yet, it’s a simple, noninvasive therapy with potential benefit for treating children with RAP.


1/26/07 23:28 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.